Compound Exercises Versus Isolation Exercises: Why Both Are A Must For Your Workout Routine

Posted by Shannon Clark on

If you are getting started on an intense weight lifting workout program, you’ve likely heard about two different types of exercises: compound exercises and isolation exercises. 

What are these and how do they help you? 

Understanding how these factor into your overall program design will help ensure that any program you create is one that will yield you the results you’re looking for. 

Let’s quickly go over what you need to know about these two primary types of exercises. 

Compound Exercises 

Compound exercises are those that are going to give you the best ‘bang for your buck’ so to speak, offering major benefits each time you perform them. They are going to work two or more muscle groups at once and often span over the use of two different joints as well, hence their name compound. 

Examples of compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg press, bench press, bent over rows, pull-ups, pull-downs, shoulder press, and chest dips. 

What benefits do they bring? 

First, they burn a massive number of calories. If fat loss is your goal, compound exercises are a must. The more muscle fibers you work in a given instant, the more calories you will burn thus the faster you’ll achieve weight loss results. Since compound exercises are hitting so many large muscle groups in the body, the calorie burn you get is quite significant. 

Second, they’re also great for developing strength. Here again, the more muscle fibers you have working behind every lift you do, the more strength you’ll build. These are great power building movements. 

Finally, they also help you save time. Since you’ll be working so many muscle groups at once, this saves having to do multiple exercises in each workout session, thus you can get in and out of the gym faster overall. 

Isolation Exercises 

Next we have isolation exercises. What are these and what purpose do they serve? As the name suggests, isolation exercises isolate a single muscle group at a time. They consist of the movements like bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, leg extensions, and hamstring curls. 

These exercises are good for refining a muscle, bringing up lagging muscle groups, and for fine-tuning your physique. They aren’t going to build huge amounts of power and strength or burn a high dose of calories, but when done in conjunction with compound exercises, they round out your routine and ensure that you are building the body you’re going for. 

In an ideal scenario, you want to have both types of exercises in your workout program. If you are short on time, definitely get the compound exercises in first and foremost as they are most critical to success. But beyond those, add in a few isolation exercises at the end of the program to finish off the muscles. This is what will yield you amazing results.